• Nadal: How does the Covid protocol affect your rituals?

Rarely did Rafael Nadal's presence in Rome be charged with such interest.

Be careful, we are talking about the

nine-time champion of the tournament

, the number two in the world and the winner of 19 Grand Slam titles.

It is not that any of his appearances at the Foro Italico lacked the formidable pull that his figure deserves, but rather the exceptionality with which he appeared at the tournament this year.

Everything remains the same, nothing has changed, as if the game had not stopped for him in all this time.

With a convincing performance, he beat Pablo Carreño, in one hour and 13 minutes, and will play the quarterfinals on Friday against the winner of the match between Milos Raonic and Dusan Lajovic.

[6-1 and 6-1: Narration and statistics]

It had been 200 days since his last game, to be, against

Taylor Fritz, in Acapulco

, with the 85th title of his career, and it was necessary to go back to June 9, 2019 to find his penultimate appearance on clay;

in a big way, of course, certifying against Dominic Thiem his twelfth cup at Roland Garros.

Absent of his own accord at the US


, Nadal has returned to the Italian capital on a course shaken by the pandemic that is ravaging the world.

Nothing and nobody is safe, and tennis is also moving in its new normal, for now, with the stands naked and the protagonists subjected to the logical measures of maximum protection.

Low resistance

The Mallorcan did not take long to finish with the margin of uncertainty.

In front of him he had

Pablo Carreño, recent semifinalist of the United States Open, 18th in the rankings,

a hierarchical rival for the debut.

Carreño held out until he lost his service for the first time, in the fourth game.

Cornered in the backhand area, he soon saw his attempts to shorten exchanges dismantled.

His attacks on Nadal's second serve did not prosper, which immediately added to the traditional dominance with the


, changes of rhythm with the backhand cut.

Few of you can get to a Nadal so similar to himself, without difficulties to impose the rhythm that is used on clay.

Perhaps his low percentage of first serves (49%), a marginal issue, since he was able to dominate the game, leaving the data as an almost unnoticed issue.

Carreño, who again found himself at a disadvantage in the third game of the second quarter, was faced with a greater challenge than those attacked in his brilliant stint in New York.

In six games he has only started one set from the left-hander.

Winning Nadal is within the reach of very few.

And on clay it is still a colossal undertaking.

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Know more

  • tennis

  • Rafael Nadal

  • Novak Djokovic

  • Roland Garros

  • Pablo Carreño

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US Open 2020Djokovic's pitch: from Carreño's apology to Kyrgios' mockery

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